South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley met with the media via Zoom, Friday, to share her thoughts on the landscape of sports in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting.
Staley spoke passionately about what she sees as her role as a head coach, “I want them (players) to be able to digest what’s happening. I want them to feel whatever it is that they are feeling. The last few days, I did it purposely, I didn’t say anything because I wanted them to say something to me. But last night I thought, I’m here to help them navigate …. I’m hesitant to bring these things up because I’m afraid of them taking on my views. I don’t want them to do that because I want them to be individuals, I want them to feel how they feel.”
Staley hasn’t felt the need to be heard on every social issue, but something stirring inside led her to speak out, “Everything that I do is led by my heart. My heart led me to the University of South Carolina, and I don’t know why. But as I continue to live in this community, I see why … My purpose was more than coming here to win championships and I didn’t know what that was. But it’s unveiling itself. My heart is telling me to speak out. I’m the coach of 11 young ladies, nine of them are black and two of them are white and we have to coexist.”
Staley went on to say that she recognizes everyone may not share her view, “If someone felt differently, trust me, we would give them the space to talk and express themselves and work through things. That’s the beautiful thing about being part of a team. You come from different backgrounds and when you open yourself up to learning about different viewpoints, different perspectives, then go make it work. Play with someone and have their back.”
Staley plans to have a Zoom meeting with the team Friday night.